Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Remember warehouse depositories of used books
Friday, December 17, 2010
December 17, 2010
In the aftermath of last night’s jarring political action in which the Senate dropped the Omnibus bill, I’m reading my morning paper: The NWP Daily http://paper.li/dogtrax/nwp). In recent weeks, I’ve felt jerked around quite a bit as the House, the Senate, and the White House played around with taxation and funding. I’d watched the Senate floor live via cspan and read various commentaries on the compromises and negotiations over earmarks. I’d made numerous calls to congressional offices and urged persons associated with our University of Maryland Writing Project to engage in advocacy for National Writing Project funding. Most of us know it by experience as by far the preeminent professional development for educators. The House dodged, the White House compromised, and then the Senate dropped the ball. My feelings might condense into a title posted on Twitter this morning: “All I want for Christmas is my profession back.” (http://jasoncourtmanche.blogspot.com/2010/12/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-my.html )
That’s a bit of the context in which I looked at the Kevin’s generous gathering of news. Just under the banner, on the top left of the front page was an item from budtheteacher:
The third place is
So I was skimming, ok? Given the terms “community,” “home,” and “workplace” and the almost exact letters, I read it as “third space,” which is a rich and complex concept from Homi Bhabha (Location of Culture, Routledge, 1994). But the link didn’t give attribution to Bhabha and seemed incomplete, so at some point I looked closely enough to see it was “place” not “space.” Now I was into it, though, wondering why this was featured in Kevin’s news and on Bud’s radar screen.
I haven’t figured that out, but I was pulled back into “third space” which has lodged in my consciousness by Bhabha’s provocative writing about hybridity in culture with the potential for . . . well, although I don’t know if Bhabha or Kevin or Jason or anyone else would say it this way, but I sense it’s about making peace. The mess in Congress mirrors the bipolar divisive thinking and action that’s all over our world, that powers hostile words and wars. Third space gives a transformative alternative to this.
I began to wonder if NWP-ers were in position to act with this concept. I think we already are, at our best, as we bring forward an experiential empowerment that shifts the locus of external “expert” authority from assessments, edicts, and lecturing and moves it toward constructivist local knowing. Trying to be appropriately modest yet empowered, we-NWP-ers have the complexity of thought to engage third space and to broker between the haves and the have-nots. Can we bring that capacity to our advocacy work involving hotly divided Reds and Blues in government?
If we are to move into that audacious work, we might consider the writing about political situations. I’m still wading slowly through Bhabha—actually, it’s staying on the shelf while I’m trying to write our Continued Funding Application. I’m troubled by the funding morass and distracted from trying to manifest a third space between/within university and school systems that barely share common language and have many hidden agendas consuming most of our resources. Perhaps it helps to summon the energy needed by connecting with the vision in third space. I’m remembering the notion of “universal audience” (Perlman?) in which we write not for the actual contingency but with an eye toward our vision. In NWP, we’ve also had the taste of the vision.
And I read from another twitter lead yesterday that persons in their 60s have higher emotional intelligence than others, and this means (according to the published research from I forget where, but can find it if you need to know) that we older guys can see/construct more opportunity in apparently negative circumstances (than younger folks, including us when we were there). So let’s take a deep breath and try.
If you want more of the sense of “third space,” you might try out something I found in a quick Google search. Paul Meredith gives a fairly readable and condensed version. He wrote a dozen years ago (http://lianz.waikato.ac.nz/PAPERS/paul/hybridity.pdf ) that “the emergence of a cultural politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand concentrated and contested around the binary of Maori (the colonised) or Pakeha (the coloniser).” Notice the similarity to the situation in our government and funding situation. Meredith continues, “The dichotomous categories of ‘us/them’, ‘either/or’ have alarmingly found an increased currency resulting in adversarial polarities premised on exclusion and purity.”
Yet within this difficulty, he sees the opportunity with the third space. I’ve copied about 7 sentences that offer language for catching the vision of transformative work, possible by NWP-ers at this time as we move ahead past December 16:
“Thus, the third space is a mode of articulation, a way of describing a productive, and not merely reflective, space that engenders new possibility. It is an ‘interruptive, interrogative, and enunciative’ (Bhabha 1994) space of new forms of cultural meaning and production blurring the limitations of existing boundaries and calling into question established categorisations of culture and identity.
The concept of the third space is submitted as useful for analysing the enunciation, transgression and subversion of dualistic categories going beyond the realm of colonial binary thinking and oppositional positioning. (Law 1997) Despite the exposure of the third space to contradictions and ambiguities, it provides a spatial politics of inclusion rather than exclusion that “initiates new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration and contestation.” (Bhabha 1994: 1) . . . the possibility of a cultural politics that avoids a ‘politics of polarity.’
Any redesign must recognise and provide for the hybridity dynamic of those relations. This redesign should take place in an alternative ambivalent site, a third space, where there is ongoing [re]vision, negotiation, and if necessary, renewal of those cultural practices, norms, values and identities inscripted and enunciated through the production of bicultural ‘meaning and representation’. (Bhabha 1994)”
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Moving toward mid-life, whenever that
May be, we charge mountains. Big things
Make up that world. Mist comes and goes,
Monstrous hills turn windmills. We sit
Down; through the long day we chased the light
That sinks, then slides up our shadows silvery,
More modest now, the subtle slowly
Makes friends with a murmur in the heart.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Prescriptive, one-size fits all, thinking has always been an option. The principles of democratic government, liberatory education, and responsible living must always strive to reach above self-serving, simplistic final solutions. Now, as ever, is not the time to join the panic. The fear climate, characteristic of our political landscape, makes a set-up for drastic action in which a few will benefit but many will be harmed. The leaders of the United States of America that I respect and follow realize that public education requires dedicated teachers who have been supported to build communities of learners even in an environment hostile to independent thought and threatened by immediate gratification. These leaders have the strength and courage to move ahead with the grace to admit mistakes which are the inevitable consequences of creative progress rather than succumbing to doubts of the fearful.
One exemplar of supporting teachers, the National Writing Project, the best I’ve known in my 40-year career in public education, faces the risk of losing funds from the taxes we pay. I want my representatives to invest wisely, not to jump ship, not to follow rash, fear-mongering tactics. Stand tall enough to distinguish the work that indeed serves all our children, including those “at risk,” those who have been harmed, those most in need of visionary leadership who see above the panic. Look at the heavens, the way leaders have done, far beyond 200 years ago. Listen to the child in a NWP teacher’s classroom who says: “Last year I was not smart. This year I am. I don’t know why but I like it.” http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/677
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Going another twenty years back, I remember the resonant amen that involuntarily rose up when I read “The teaching of literature is a political act,” because that declaration affirms life worth living. To a lover of narrative, Leslie Marmon Silko also struck the chord when she opened Ceremony: “I’ll tell you something about stories: They’re not just entertainment.” But these compelling assertions also heighten frustration because most classroom acts (such as the analysis of text and even performance of text) offered at best a limited approximation to real-life acts of liberation theology.
My service in residential treatment centers was on target but begged the question: how does this penetrate the totality of work? Surely Freire lived with more integrity in his enactment of literacy which connected land reform with peasants learning to read, even when his success meant political exile.
Liberatory education has translated into many academic projects (e.g., Giroux; Shor; Apple), but such scholarly accomplishment doesn't resolve the tension for me. In addition to physical property (land, capital, and economic investments), equity demands attention to knowledge production and ownership. Freire modeled this by insisting that the peasant ask him an equal number of questions that he could not answer. Literacy education requires a more equitable distribution of authority/authorship than afforded in traditional, hegemonic practice. Yet even knowing that doesn’t translate us into liberatory praxis. We’re too imprisoned in a print-culture, educational system (which celebrates copyright, high volume publication, and individual authorship with close scrutiny for plagiarism).
Under this stress, to some extent I chose to separate from this profession that perpetuates inequities in knowledge (e.g., "merit" based on top-down conference presentation and high-volume refereed publication). Although I won’t elaborate it here, an option came from Jungian psychology which believes that an individual’s movement in consciousness connects with changes in collective consciousness. These changes can be accomplished outside the professional structure and I can view them as liberatory, but this was not entirely satisfactory. Something more was being conceived.
In recent years, while I continued struggling with literacy as conscientização (critical consciousness), a separate but compelling storyline was taking form. Surprisingly, digital media started taking up more and more space. And now, converging on the bridge, the light of their connection breaks out so “duh:” Citizen journalism. The term even gets elaborated in Wikipedia which notes that almost anyone wanting to take on social responsibility can take action through the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet.
I believe this construct of citizen journalism offers discourse a revolution (although ethical participation still requires commitment to social justice and desire to expand consciousness). For example, Jay Rosen revitalizes the construct of “audience” because blogs, podcasts, and digital media restore to the people what media magnates had misappropriated in their control of newspapers, radio, and television. For this revolution to lead to positive change, educators must shift paradigms to a truly collaborative model and act as models of peace and justice. For learners who are already immersed in technology, if not addicted to it, powerful teaching is needed even more than before. Although social justice is certainly not the default theme for digital media, opportunities of access and collaborative engagement offer exciting alternatives to the dominant force.
Although not branded as such, citizen journalism now appears frequently on my radar. It’s trackable in the script for tonight's presidential address on education. It’s connectable through corporate support for humanitarian projects. Youth Noise and Link TV invite media production involving social justice with projects involving poverty, hunger, and health issues. One of my favorites shows a woman forced to leave teaching (due to the Taliban) and developing a beekeeping industry in Afganistan.
The theme of citizen journalism and social justice can be developed in cutting-edge digital media work at the boundary of public education. Leadership has been provided by the MacArthur Foundation, often in collaboration with National Writing Project. Featured projects are happening in Philadelphia and in Chicago. A number of other projects are happening around the world. The connection of literacy with digital media clearly marks the place for our writing project.
 Naming the discipline remains elusive but the field has been named Rhetoric, English, Communication, Language Arts, etc.
 A.N. Applebee, Tradition and Reform in the Teaching of English: A History, NCTE, 1974.
 An interesting website gives citations for these authors: http://florycanto.net/links/liberatoryeducation/libedbooklist.html
The 2010 World Humanitarian Day project is a collaborative film shot in over 40 countries in under 9 weeks, on a shoestring budget – with the goal of showing the enormous diversity of places, faces and endeavors of humanitarian aid workers in 2010. It was filmed by humanitarian staff and freelance filmmakers from around the globe (over 50 contributors in total) with all time donated.
 http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/melinda-gates-100902-view-change.aspx Melinda Gates, “To me, the stories I hear underscore the fact that, no matter how different people’s circumstances, we’re all linked by a common humanity. When I meet mothers, it’s clear to me that we all have the same goals: for our children to grow up healthy, and then get an education, so they can realize their full potential.
At the Gates Foundation, we think a lot about telling stories. One of our partners, LinkTV, is creating ViewChange.org, a multimedia website that uses stories to show how investments in global health and development are making real differences in real peoples’ lives. The website is scheduled to go live in November.
This summer, the ViewChange team launched a contest urging filmmakers to submit short videos about progress toward the UN’s Millennium Development Goals – global commitments to dramatically decrease poverty, hunger, and disease in the developing world. These films will be used to raise awareness, motivate action, and accelerate the world-wide movement for global equity.”
 Links to MacArthur projects are shown first and then a variety of other activities that might merit exploration.
Renee Hobbs at Temple U. The mission of the Powerful Voices for Kids program is to strengthen children's abilities to think for themselves, communicate effectively using language and technology tools, and use their powerful voices to contribute to the quality of life in their families, their schools, their communities, and the world. The program consists of these components:
- a staff development program for educators;
- a month-long summer enrichment program for children;
- a program for gifted & talented students;
- measures of student learning and program effectiveness;
- research/assessment tools to measure media literacy learning;
- in-school and afterschool mentoring.
- parent and community outreach.
Digital Youth Network in Chicago. The DYN model focuses heavily on the sixth- to eighth-grade experience through explicit connections to school-based curriculum, interest-based clubs that require youth to use new media literacies in order to participate, and remix competitions and “open shop” times (both virtual and place-based) where youth are supported in using new media literacies to explore their own questions and push their imaginations.
Carnegie-Knight Institutions (including UMCP) for Journalism work:
The goal of the instructional component of this website is to provide journalism educators with material that can help their students to develop knowledge-based journalism skills. The student assignments are designed to inform and deepen the reporting of policy issues by connecting it to scholarly policy-based research.
Great topics for reporting:
Creating Digital Worlds of the Future By: Michael Silverberg September 1, 2010
Under the theme "Build Your Own World," more than 100 artists are creating fanciful universes in the hopes of prompting civic engagement at this arts-and-tech biennial in San Jose. We peeked at six intriguing projects.
Global Kids (New York, NY), a strength-based youth development organization with over two decades of experience working with young people and technology, constantly seeks new ways to explore and answer these questions with diverse groups of youth. This article describes a pilot project that linked youth detention centers with community libraries in two cities, to work specifically with incarcerated youth and new learning technologies.
MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids, is a dynamic, interactive site, which encourages individual expression and participation through video submissions from children worldwide. Through these video pod casts we hope to create a community of children, who learn the art of self-expression and storytelling through video.
In the beginning, the video pod casts highlighted the people, events and history of New York City. As this site grows through children’s submissions, we hope to highlight the people and events of other towns, cities and nations. To date we have video podcasts from California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, and Maryland. We are always open to the people and events in your corner of the world.
Glynda Hull, UCBerkely. Most recently, with colleagues from India, South Africa, Norway, Australia, and Singapore, she has developed a social networking site, space2cre8.info, which links youth around the world and fosters the exchange of digital artifacts.
Digital storytelling, participatory media and easing access to mass media for public expression from Wales BBC.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
(Note: please see http://vimeo.com/14125482 for the digital project that is the topic of this blog.)
(Note: please see http://vimeo.com/14125482 for the digital project that is the topic of this blog.)
As evident in this account, I learned more and more about revision. I already knew that it was much more than the reductionist editing routines; but I hadn’t appreciated so fully the variety of more substantive acts of revision: to see again, to re-see after being seen, to make a new vision. The resources of digital media open doors to the value of re-visioning through this capacity to see again and again, to be seen by others, and to make changes that offer improved visions built on increased insight and consciousness.
* Although “digital story” is the term typically used for what we’re doing (with Photostory, imovie, movie maker, Pinnacle Studio, and Final Cut), I don’t think the process nor the product fits sufficiently with “story.” I have great affection and respect for “story,” but the form of what I’m doing in digital media production spreads out, octopus-like, outside the perimeters and expectations of narrative.
Also, the dismissive attitude that many academics turn toward “story” doesn’t do justice to the work or the form of digital media. We could redefine the scope of narrative, along the lines of David Boje, but I prefer the open search for another emergent construct, like Gee’s “DMAL (digital media and learning).
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Perhaps most importantly, Jenkins avoids the polarizing tendencies typically found around media activity and criticism. His conclusion and afterword reach toward the best of what has compelled me toward a lifetime of engagement with rhetoric and symbolic action. As suggested above, his depth accounting conveys the resurrection of hope and the potential for democratic activity through the grassroots engagement in media production and publishing about both personal and social matters. But he also shows the limitations of this ground-up dimension. Although he doesn't label it as such, the king archetype is needed to balance the everyman/woman/child. The final answer is not to abolish mass media because it potentially offers a public space needed for a world vision (to which Jenkins references Habermas). This balance connects with his title: convergence culture.
The bulk of the book, however, focuses on the popular voice, sometimes referred to as the "fan." The significance of Jenkins' work can be seen in this paragraph from his conclusion (p. 267). In it, he also venerates the timeless essential place of story.
"Fans reject the idea of a definitive version produced, authorized, and regulated by some media conglomerate. Instead, fans envision a world where all of us can participate in the creation and circulation of central cultural myths. Here, the right to participte in the culture is assumed to be 'the freedom we have allowed outselves,' not a privilege granted by a benevolent company, not something they are prepared to barter away for better sound files or free Web hosting. Fans also reject the studio's assumption that intellectual property is a 'limited good,' to be tightly controlled lest it dilute its value. Instead, they embrace an understanding of intellectual property as 'shareware,' something that accrues value as it moves across different contexts, gets retold in various ways, attracts multiple audiences, and opens itself up to a proliferation of alternative meanings."
I don't believe our children automatically develop into "fans" of the quality Jenkins just named, and I don't believe their unguided engagement in Web 2.0 makes us into persons characterized by these values either. Transformed teaching and teachers are vitally needed to meet the opportunity provided by the convergence culture. Jenkins' book calls us toward an "achievable utopia." Supporting teachers to be able to play their role in this demands a comparable act of accomplishment. That's what I believe we are about in our projects around Digital Media and Learning and in our work with the National Writing Project.